17 February 2009

so high school

In a very roundabout way, my daughter's name connects her with Eleanor Roosevelt. Not just her first name, but her middle name too. She's Eleanor Rose. Unlike the naming of Oliver, it didn't take months. Her first name was solved in minutes, and the middle took less than a day. I had six suggestions for a middle name, all rejected by CD. I put the burden on him and he suggested we find out what Eleanor Roosevelt's middle name was and go with that. She was Anna Eleanor. It wasn't much of a leap from there.

My 25th high school reunion will be going on without me this year. I have never been back to a reunion and doubt I ever will. I never wanted to be there in the first place. My pleas to go to boarding school started fairly early, but suffered from a couple of things. First was timing. The whole father getting sick and dying thing. Then there was the whole not having any money thing. Still, I had always believed in thinking big and reaching. Most of the time that approach served me well, but this time I didn't even try. I let high school kick my ass instead. 

The school work wasn't what did it. I was bored with that. My way of finding challenge was to see how little work I could do without anyone noticing. I had one teacher who pushed, somehow getting a thrill out of getting kids to think beyond going to the University of Maine at Orono. But otherwise, if you seemed like you were going to graduate, the teachers had other things to worry about, like lunch. Coasting was easy. And left me with some really stellar study skills, but back to that later on.

Socially, I was just all wrong. For some bizarre reason, sororities existed and were Very Important. My much older sisters had been members of one, and they did the legacy thing, so I didn't worry at first. Then it became clear that sorority would not be inviting me to join. And neither would any of the others. The high school mind makes some interesting translations and calculations.  I was all wrong in so many ways. 

My solution? Get outta Dodge. But there were the problems I already mentioned, so getting out had to wait a few years. I found the college I wanted, a serious reach in every way imaginable, and enlisted the help of the aforementioned teacher. When it was suggested at my interview that I shouldn't bother to apply, and that I couldn't afford the application fee, I decided to apply for early decision. I didn't have a "plan B" so if I wasn't getting in I wanted to know it in December. April was too late.

Apparently there are some bizarre things going on in the minds of college admissions officers too because they admitted me. That was "the goal" for so long I didn't give a lot of thought to what I would do once I got there. Those really stellar study skills were not much help. Nor was the enormous amount in insecurity I brought with me, especially when faced with what looked to me like a sea of good breeding, boarding schools, and J. Crew. It was a major case of "be careful what you wish for." Instead of high school kicking my ass, now I had an elite college kicking it even harder, and though I was getting some substantial financial aid, I was paying for the privilege.

Where was Eleanor Roosevelt, and her wise words, when I needed her?  "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." And boy, did I consent. Up, down, and sideways. And now, as an associate class agent, I get to ask those people who intimidated me to donate money back to the school. Oh, the irony.

But that's college and we're spending today in high school. And not going to reunion. You would think after 25 years I would be sufficiently comfortable in my own skin to go back and face the bad 80s music. Nope. Not a chance. 


Anonymous said...

Aww. You're okay! You're a Burgh blogging mom now. And you know how to use Twitter. You're a cool kid. Plus, your kids are adorable.

I keep wondering when I'm going to get the invitation to my 20th. It would be this year. I would go just because I do love my life so much -- despite the bitching I do online.

Hang in there, kid.

And not all the '80s music was bad...


Colleen said...

I wanted to go back to mine just to show all those snotty kids who made fun of me that all my nerdiness paid off. I managed to graduate college, am not stuck living in my parent's basement due to lack of motivation, and didn't drink-and-smoke myself into bad health. Too bad the nim-wits at my HS never figured out how to organize the 10-yr reunion.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

The beauty of high school reunions is that you don't have to go and you don't have to tell anybody why.

Screw 'em.

Trannyhead said...

This is interesting. The Burgh Baby's Mom had a post related to this today but with the opposite conclusion that yours had.

I think it's too bad that you're too insecure to go to your high school reunion because you were insecure when you were there. It's also too bad that you were insecure in college. I don't think that the insecurity was a function of your education and location, though. As in, I think no matter where you were going to end up after high school, the insecurity would have followed you. Whether you went to Harvard or community college. Which is too bad, but anyway, I think you're blaming a lot of it on the fact that there were kids there who shopped at J Crew wrongly. I'm fairly certain you would have been insecure anywhere.

That being said, I'm not sure if I'll go to my 10 year reunion from high school. Not because I'm insecure, but because I don't know that I'll have time!

ClumberKim said...

I agree that I would have been insecure no matter where I landed after high school. I'm not seeing how I blame where people shop for my insecurity, but I'm not going to say your interpretation is wrong. I don't always say what I mean in a way that others understand.

I go out of my way to get to my college reunions, events for local alumni in my area, etc. And I ask fellow classmates to give back to the Alumni Fund. I have a very strong connection there and always will. I got it together before I graduated, thanks to some very strong friendships. I had none of those friendships in high school. I should have added that I don't feel like I'm missing much by not going back to high school.

Trannyhead said...

Good for you! You probably aren't missing anything by not going back to high school. ;-)

TTG said...

I think I might be having my first high school reunion this year(I have a very lazy class). I never in my life thought I would go as I hated high school, but now I think I'm going. I just want to show off how great my daughter is. So weird I know. I hope my reunion isn't like Liz Lemon's on 30 Rock..as I fear it might be.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I didn't go to any reunions -- and then I helped to organize our 30th. I got the ball rolling by calling for a TalkShoe conversation with a few on a listserv / Yahoo Group. We had more folks get the invite and attend than we ever had 5, 10, 20, etc. Thanks to the internet and some pesky researchers.

Greeks in High School? OMG.

What college, BTW.

I think we should have a public school boarding high school. A city of our size, Christchurch, NZ, has two for girls and 2 for boys, I think.

Jen said...

Kim, this post spoke to me. Not that we had sororities or any thing like that; more the coasting/lack of study skills thing. Luckily, I didn't really need those in college either (lit. major), but it sure was a problem when I hit law school!

I should have a 20-year reunion coming up next year, and I think I have arrived at a point where I want to go enjoy seeing the few folk I'm now in touch with (thanks to FB) and give the rest a nice "I told you so"!

Then again, Joan Cusack's line about reunions from Grosse Pointe Blank always sticks in my mind: "It was as if everyone had...swelled."